City hoping to avoid January dramas as transfer window opens
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
It's been just 78 days since the previous transfer window closed, but today the January window opens for business, with Norwich City hoping for a relatively settled and uneventful month.
Clubs will have until 11pm on Monday, February 1 to complete their mid-season business and there's only one deadline to worry about this time, unlike earlier in the campaign when the European deadline of October 5 was followed by a domestic window until October 16.
The Canaries felt the effect of that situation as much as any other club, with four Championship fixtures played before the domestic window had closed, as opposed to the previous season in the Premier League when the window closed ahead of the first fixtures.
That led to news of Barcelona's interest in Max Aarons being leaked on the morning of the 2-2 home draw with Preston in September and Ben Godfrey playing the opening three games prior to his £25million move to Everton at the start of October.
It also of course saw Daniel Farke leave Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendia out of a 1-0 loss at Bournemouth, revealing afterwards that he hadn't been happy with their standards in training, feeling they had been distracted by transfer speculation following relegation from the top flight.
The day after the domestic window closed, Tim Krul saved a crucial penalty at Rotherham and City came from behind to win 2-1 thanks to a late Jordan Hugill penalty - sparking a 10-game unbeaten run which would propel them to the top of the table.
That's the position they still occupy as 2021 begins, perhaps crucially.
It's meant that Krul and Adam Idah have signed new contracts recently and that any clubs who do show interest will need a strong offer to distract any of Farke's players this time around, both in terms of being able to offer a Premier League future and financially, with the Canaries under no pressure to sell and with a promotion to fight for.
One piece of business looks almost certain to go through early doors though, with Barnsley boss Valerien Ismael already admitting that a deal for City striker Carlton Morris is 'close' and MK Dons manager Russell Martin revealing that the 25-year-old's loan is set to be cut short.
Morris is entering the final six months of his contract so that deal allows Norwich to recoup at least a nominal fee for their academy product, who will be the last of the club's 2013 FA Youth Cup winners to leave when his exit goes through.
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The main focus however, as spoken about by Farke, is to ensure that the left-back position is sorted after midfielder Jacob Sorensen was played out of position since Xavi Quintilla's hip problem emerged in October.
The Spaniard has been among the City substitutes for the last two games, having returned to Villarreal for treatment, so could reclaim the starting role in the next few matches.
His situation is complicated further by an obligation to buy - reportedly for a fee of £2.7m - if he has made a significant amount of appearances in a promotion season and by both Sam Byram and Bali Mumba hoping to return to fitness this month.
Sam McCallum could return from Coventry if needed but it's understood sporting director Stuart Webber and Farke would prefer the 20-year-old to keep developing as he is playing regularly, so a Premier League loan could be considered if things don't work out with Quintilla, Byram and Mumba.
Editor's note: This article was written prior to Michael McGovern's long-term injury being confirmed and Farke discussing the possibility of signing a new keeper.
Otherwise, the Canaries' injury crisis has already proven the strength in depth available, with a host of talent out on loan and developing with regular game-time - who can be recalled if required, such as USA international striker Sebastian Soto or Luxembourg international forward Danel Sinani.
Centre-back Akin Famewo had been doing well in League One for Charlton but injuries have brought his progress to a halt and the 22-year-old isn't expected to return from an ankle injury until February.
Webber does still have two players to deal with who have been frozen out as well, with Josip Drmic and Moritz Leitner earning good money not to play football for the best part of six months. Both weren't given squad numbers and didn't re-emerge when the injury crisis was at its peak so it's clear their futures lie elsewhere.
But currently both are under contract until 2022 and if new clubs cannot be found during this window, or for an agreement to end those deals early, then their absence will continue to grow in financial cost with every week that passes.
The other complicating factor is that this will be the first transfer window since the UK has left the European Union, ending the free movement of players and bringing strict new work permit qualification criteria. This could well add a financial premium to homegrown talent and aid the signing of players from outside of the EU but it's unclear how long it will take for the impact to be obvious.
During the summer window the Canaries signed 10 players at first-team level, sold Godfrey and Jamal Lewis, loaned Timm Klose to Basel with a view to a permanent deal and sanctioned 21 further loans, including Tom Trybull's move to Blackburn.
We can be fairly certain we won't see anything like that kind of movement again, with Webber previously making clear his preference to avoid the January window for major business when at all possible.
So unless one of the big boys turns up with a big bid, the overriding intention will be to keep attentions on the football and building on a first half of the season which has allowed Farke's squad to set their sights on a promotion push.